An eye contusion also called as black eye is a condition where the soft tissues surrounding the eye become bruised and swollen. This is caused as a result of an injury to the face or head resulting in collection of fluid around the eye leading to swelling and discoloration; therefore, it is given the name "black eye." There is no injury to the eye but the area surrounding the eye is bruised and swollen. The skin surrounding the eye is very sensitive. As a result of this, the blood vessels under it can get damaged easily with resultant swelling and bruising around the eye. Generally, such injuries are very minor and this condition usually resolves on its own in some days. The swelling and discoloration fades away gradually in some days. There are some cases in which black eye can be a precursor of a more serious injury.
Causes of a Black Eye or Eye Contusion
- Trauma or injury to the eye generally noticed with contact sports like soccer, boxing etc.
- Direct hit on the face by a blunt object.
- Falling to the ground facedown.
- Bumping into furniture.
- There are also cases of black eye after procedures to the face like jaw surgery, facelift, nose surgery.
- It can also be caused due to a basilar skull fracture. A black eye resulting from this condition is called "raccoon's eyes."
- Other medical disorders such as cellulitis, allergic reactions, bites, dental infections and angioedema may also cause black eye.
Symptoms of a Black Eye or Eye Contusion
- Pain, swelling and discoloration around the eye.
- Tenderness to touch.
- The affected person may not be able to open the eye.
- There may be blurry vision.
- As black eye results from some form of a head injury hence headache is a common symptom which accompanies it.
- There can be some symptoms which require instant medical consultation such as: Loss of vision, diplopia, loss of consciousness, inability to move the eye, discharge from the eyes, ears or nose which can be clear or bloody, blood on the eye surface, excruciating headache which does not improve, broken bones or teeth, behavioral changes, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, gait changes, lacerations to the head, face or eye region, eye deformity or discharge from the eyeball.
Treatment of a Black Eye or Eye Contusion
- Black eye generally heals in a few days without any treatment.
- Ice should be applied immediately and should be repeated every two hours.
- Patient needs to lie down with the head elevated so as to reduce bleeding.
- Medical consultation is required just in case there may be some facial fracture.
- Anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or naproxen can be used for alleviating pain and swelling.
- As stated above immediate medical attention is required if the following symptoms are experienced by the patient: Loss of vision, diplopia, loss of consciousness, inability to move the eye, clear or bloody discharge from the eye, ears or nose, blood on the eye surface, unrelenting headache, broken bones or teeth, behavioural changes, nausea/ vomiting, dizziness, gait changes, lacerations to the head, face or eye region, eye deformity or discharge from the eyeball.